By Blackson Kupatira
Mulanje, Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda has said that secure borders are crucial for national security and development.
Borders protect people from outside threats like Coronavirus and generate revenue for government to carry out developmental programmes.
Speaking at Muloza Border Post in Mulanje on Monday where he addressed Police and Immigration Officers as part of his familiarization tour.
Banda said this was the reason government plans to strengthen border security by creating a conducive working environment to motivate officers and mobilize resources for smooth operations.
“We want to see a mindset change so that we have hard working officers who uphold professionalism,” the Minister said.
He said that Government was aware of the challenges security officers in the country face when discharging their duties and that it was working to address the same.
On staff houses, Banda said government has already allocated funds in the budget to be presented in September at Parliament to the construction of houses for the officers so that they could live close to their duty station to respond timely to security emergencies.
He said he was aware that some officers have been on the same post for many years while others were not promoted on merit, noting that some officers were promoted in cohorts by previous government without following proper human resource procedures.
“We will still honour these promotions and make sure that the budget takes them into consideration. However, we will normalize the situation to make sure that long service, professionalism and merit are also considered,” Banda added.
The Minister thanked the officers for the dedication to their work regardless of the challenges, appealing for integrity and professionalism when discharging their duties, saying immigration and road traffic departments score highly on the corruption index.
Regional Immigration Officer for the South, Joseph Biziwiki said the closure of borders as a measure to control further spread of Covid-19 has created security lapses as they are no longer being monitored.
“There’s need to liaise with the police to deploy security officers to monitor these borders,” he said.
Officer In-charge for Muloza Immigration Border Post, Jackson Lamiere hailed government for taking action to deal with challenges immigration officers are facing, saying this will ease their work.
He said it was difficult for Officers to make patrols along the border because the post only has one vehicle as such the country was losing a lot of money because of porous borders that were enabling people from Mozambique to enter the country with goods without paying revenue.
Lamiere added that Covid-19 has greatly affected revenue collection at the facility as they are no longer issuing visas to foreigners.
“For example, from June to July,2019, the border post realized about US$53,000 yet this year between the same time it has collected nothing,” he disclosed.